¡Ask a Comida Critic! Was Carl Karcher Really That Much of a Dick?

From Armando:

Gustavo, love your stuff, but I found an obituary you wrote about Carl Karcher, and it was pretty mean. Was he really as big of a dick as you made him out to be?

I don't think I made him out to be too evil. If anything, that obit spelled out my mixed feelings about the founder of Carl's Jr. Let's roll the tape!

carlkarcher.jpg
Karcher: The man, the myth--the dick?
From my obit:

Growing up in Anaheim in the late 1980s, I thought Carl Karcher was God. His signature was on the gift certificate for a free Carl's Jr. kids' meal that elementary teachers gave to students with good grades. My family ate at his restaurants almost weekly, since a Carl's Jr. stands right across Broadway from Anaheim's Central Library. The gentle giant attended Mass daily at my Catholic parish, St. Boniface, always sitting in the front pew. Instead of living far from the burger-eating crowds, Karcher resided in a modest two-story house within walking distance of Latino-heavy Pearson Park. I never mustered the courage to ask for one of the free-hamburger coupons the tycoon kept in his wallet like most of us carry credit-card receipts, but my friends who did always remembered he handed them out with a smile as large as his restaurant's trademark Happy Star.

It was only upon adulthood that I learned about the Karcher reviled by progressives: the CEO fined hundreds of thousands of dollars by the SEC for insider trading; the Lincoln Club co-founder who once told the Los Angeles Times
he thought some of Joe McCarthy's "points were valid"; the fool who not only gave money to support the infamously anti-gay 1978 Briggs Initiative, but who also played the role of ignoramus for decades afterward about it--he once told The Orange County Register that Briggs was meant to prohibit teachers from "indoctrinat[ing] your child into becoming a homosexual," and therefore not "about being anti-gay."

A lot of people weren't happy with my obit, but so be it: There was nothing in my piece that was factually wrong. If I really wanted to pile on, I could've mentioned that Karcher was accused of opposing compensation for Japanese-American World War II internees, or that his son, Father Jerome Karcher, is a dick given he's part of the pedophile-apologist clan that lords over the Catholic Diocese of Orange.

But I do not hate the man--he wasn't as odious as Ray Kroc or as driven by jealousy as Glen Bell. Even in these days, I only think nice thoughts of Karcher, remember how he'd always smile when the poor Mexican kids at St. Boniface constantly pestered him--even during Mass!--for a coupon, and he'd always oblige with a genuine smile. No man who's so kind to children can be an ultimate dick, can he? And I do find it sad how the company was basically stolen from him and has devolved into the bro orgy it is today. C'est la vie, I guess. . . .

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